Texas Advocates for Nursing Home Residents


Visitation Hints

How to Organize a TANHR Unit

Family Councils

We are an all-volunteer organization, and are simply compassionate individuals interested in the care of senior citizens or loved ones residing in nursing homes. This organization is working for better care of nursing home residents. The ways we do this are: 
 >  Sponsoring meetings of interested persons in each region of Texas
>  Sponsoring educational programs with speakers who know the rules and regulations and how they are applied to nursing homes
>  Speaking to groups such as Family Councils in nursing homes, civic groups, church groups and other charitable organizations
>  Writing press releases to be distributed through newspapers
>  Participating in radio and TV programs
>  Establishing TANHR Units
>  Writing letters to encourage interest in nursing home laws

We would like to have your help in setting up a TANHR Unit in your area. We will work with you to:
  1] find a suitable meeting place
  2] set a date
  3] find a reporter from the local newspaper who is interested or will interview you about the meeting
  4] get an announcement of the meeting in the newspaper
  5] invite as many people as possible (contact family council president for a list)
  6] see that refreshments are furnished
  7] find a speaker
This needs to be done so that we can make the legislators aware  that we are interested in the laws that will be enacted during the next session of the legislature. We must be active, or the good that came from Senate Bill 190 (75th legislative session) will be canceled by laws that will be introduced by the nursing home industry.

We provide a voice for those who cannot arise from their beds or wheelchairs to speak for themselves.   We stand up for them in the legislature, in nursing home offices, in agency offices, in community organizations, churches, television and radio studios - any place where others will listen.  We advocate and we act to arouse public interest and response to the vital needs of all nursing home residents. 

WE FOCUS ON RESIDENTS      Uppermost in our minds are the RESIDENTS, their care and dignity. Yes, we always need donations (our only funding source); we have important programs and agendas, but we regularly remind ourselves that the RESIDENT is TANHR's reason for being.

For more information about TANHR, what we do and how we can help, call (972)572-6330 or call Toll Free (888)TANHR4U [(888)826-4748], or explore this site.


   Texas Advocates for Nursing Home Residents is calling for all advocates to become active by demanding that there be good quality of care in nursing homes in Texas. There are many ways to accomplish this:
   One of the simplest ways is to visit a nursing home.
   Volunteering in a nursing home comes next.
   Family members of residents in a nursing home can organize
       a Family Council.
   People in communities can organize TANHR Units.

There is power in numbers. It is going to take all of us to work toward the goal of improving Quality of Care in nursing homes.

Nursing home owners and operators must be held accountable for the conditions in their nursing homes. We must stand up for the laws, rules and regulations that we now have and not let them be watered down.

You can make a difference!

If you would like to be a TANHR activist,
     call 1-888-826-4748.

CALL 911
  when there is abuse and neglect in nursing homes.
Federal and state laws require a report to police when abuse is observed. Calling 911 is effective because someone comes immediately before there is contamination of the evidence.
Take your responsibility seriously -- call 911.

You can make a difference.  Maybe you can't solve the problems of the world or even your community, but you can be part of the solution by reaching out to nursing home RESIDENTS.  They need love and light in their lives.  You can give them a little bit of both.

  • Why Volunteer?
    º  Lighten the resident's day with a different face and some individual attention.
    º  Help residents find meaning and importance by giving the priceless gift of listening.
    º  Be another pair of eyes and ears to create better care for residents.
    º  Give emotional and spiritual uplift to those who are lonely and despairing.
    º  Help residents see that they are still members of the community and that they are not abandoned by others.¹

  • How you can volunteer
    º  Contact the activity director in the nursing home of your choice and inform them of your desire to help.  Most activity directors are delighted to have a helping hand and a fresh smile.
    º   Volunteer to visit a resident, especially one who has no family or friends visiting them. It is imperative that you check with the activity director or other nursing home staff to get permission to visit and to identify appropriate residents.

  • Call our (TANHR's) office   We can help you find and/or realize volunteer opportunities.  Our phone is toll free - (888)TANHR4U   [(888)826-4748]. Call us, explaining your interest and location. 

  • Compassionate Companions   If you are interested in a long term or greater commitment to visiting nursing homes, Compassionate Companions can help you.  This organization is located in Dallas and periodically provides workshops to assist volunteers to learn about visitation.  Call (214)823-2583 or call the TANHR office and we can help you link up with these beautiful people. 

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  • Who needs your visit?   
    º  Residents who are newly admitted and who need to know that they are welcome and not alone
    º  Residents who are socially isolated because family lives at a distance or cannot provide on-going support for some reason
    º  The terminally ill who tend to be isolated in our society and often fear being abandoned

  • Hints for visitations   
    º  Empathize by hearing what is being said and listening to feelings, and seeing the world through the resident's eyes.  Empathy is not sympathy.
    Empathy: "What has happened makes you sad."
    Sympathy: "What has happened makes me sad, too." 
    º  Honor the resident's time commitments; e.g. for activities, meals.
    º  Make a determination regarding the resident's fatigue factor and time visits to match.
    º  If the resident is your parent, and you have siblings who do not or cannot visit, ask them how much they expect you to visit and decide what you can do.
    º  Hold a hand, put your arm on a shoulder, but only if you genuinely want to and you think the resident will feel comfortable if you do so.  Touch the person gently.  
    º  Since a nursing home is the resident's home, knock before entering the room.
    º  Try to guide the conversation to positive topics and toward tasks the resident is able to perform.
    º  Treat the residents with respect and as adults, without patronizing them as children even if they are disoriented or confused.
    º  Don't show alarm at the resident's condition or say things like "poor you" or "how awful."
    º  Don't belittle the person's feelings or "preach" or give unsolicited advice.¹

¹  By Permission: based on material provided by Compassionate Companions, 6255 E. Mockingbird Ln., Dallas, TX  75214,   (214)823-2583.


What is a TANHR Unit?
A TANHR Unit is an organized group of people composed of families and friends of people who reside in one or more nursing homes in a given area of Texas.  Remember, TANHR has people who can assist you in forming a TANHR Unit.

Four Goals of a TANHR Unit

  1. To educate families and friends to be better consumers
  2. To give families a voice as a group to improve conditions in the nursing homes
  3. To improve the quality of life for nursing home residents in the area
  4. To give moral support to families and friends of nursing home residents

How to start a TANHR Unit

  1. Plan an introductory meeting
  2. Promote the meeting by using newspapers, telephone calls, mailed invitations, and/or word of mouth contact .
  3. Make this an informative meeting .
  4. Election of officers can be held at this time, or a temporary chairman can be in charge until an election can be held at a later date. Officers: The officers of the organization may be Chairman, Co-chairman, Secretary-treasurer, and other officers as needed.

Who can start a TANHR Unit?
Family, friends, churches, clubs, or anyone interested in improving the well being of nursing home residents can start a Unit of Texas Advocates for Nursing Home Residents.

Guidelines for Effective Meetings with Sample Agenda
An effective meeting is one in which the agenda includes business, information, discussion of concerns and a time of socializing.


  • Plan each meeting in advance.
  • Choose an appropriate meeting place. Try to find one where there is no charge.
  • Introduce those attending the meeting for the first time.
  • Have a good program planned. (Speaker, round table discussion, etc.)
  • Have an agenda and distribute it to everyone.
  • Let there be discussion, but keep it within reasonable time limits
  • Use parliamentary procedures to insure a fair and efficient meeting.
  • Give each member an opportunity to be heard.
  • Ask for questions.
  • Curtail irrelevant debates between members. Suggest they resume their discussions after the meeting.
  • Maintain minutes of each meeting.
  • Refer to past minutes, purposes, or bylaws if disputes or misunderstandings arise.
  • Start and end on time.


  • Welcome
  • Approval of minutes
  • Action since last meeting such as: Legislative report, Need for member participation in activities, Steering committee report, Introduction of speaker
  • Plans for next few months
  • Concerns and suggestions
  • Closing
  • Reminder of date and time of next meeting
  • Coffee, cookies and socializing



You can join or form a Family Council at the nursing facility where you are a resident or where you have a loved one or friend who is a resident.  Below is information to help.

  • In 1987 The United States Congress passed the Nursing Home Reform Act that states the rights of families to organize and participate in a family group in the facility.  If such a group is organized, the facility must provide a place for meetings.
    The purpose of the family council is to protect the residents, to improve the quality of care of the residents, and to have a voice in making decisions that affect the residents.  The leader of a family council should be enthusiastic and be a motivator to make positive changes for residents.
  • The family council elects officers, appoints committees, sets meeting dates, and focuses on programs, projects, and support to family members.
  • Families working together will improve the quality of life of the residents and the image of the facility.
  • Activities of a Family Council:
    ° Sponsor educational programs such as:
         Nursing home regulations
         Nursing home legislation
         Resident Care Plans
         Discharge of residents
         Results of last official (state or federal) survey
         Roles of facility staff
      °  Entertainment for residents - Solicit programs such as:
          Musical programs  
    (school children, churches, symphony, etc.)
           Clown Acts
            Holiday parties
       °  Grievance Committee:
           The grievance committee plays an important role. The committee lists the issues and concerns of the family members and presents the list to the administrator.  The administrator must review the list and work to resolve the issues and concerns.  The committee then presents at the next meeting a report of actions taken.
  • TANHR organizes and speaks to family councils in Texas.   Call TANHR for a speaker for your next meeting.
  • [The above material on Family Councils was compiled by the Founder of TANHR, Lou O'Reilly.]
  • Return to CONTENTS


TANHR needs your support.  Our only source of funding is through membership contributions and other donations.      Your contributions enable us to maintain this Web site and our office, as well as other activities.  We depend solely on the generosity of people like you to continue much of our work.  We appreciate your help, and suggest you use a form like this:

I am enclosing [$25 or $50 or other].
Name___________________ Telephone_________
Donation in memory of_______________________
   or in honor of_____________________________

make your check payable to TANHR and send to the address below. A  brochure about TANHR is available upon request.

Thank You For Visiting TANHR!

TANHR is a non-profit, volunteer organization working to improve the quality of life and care of Texas nursing home RESIDENTS.


TANHR Home Page

Texas Advocates for Nursing Home Residents (TANHR)
P.O. Box 68    DeSoto,  Texas  75123-0068
Call our toll free number: (888)TANHR4U   [(888)826-4748].
In the Dallas area call us at:  (972)572-6330.
Our Fax number is (972)572-7954.

In the Austin area
Phone: (512)719-4757
FAX: (512)719-5057


The organization and presentation of all information on this site is © 2007 by Texas Advocates for Nursing Home Residents.